NHL Trade Scenarios: What the Pittsburgh Penguins Should Do To Acquire Rick Nash

Andre KhatchaturianCorrespondent IIIFebruary 14, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Rick Nash #61 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for a faceoff during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on February 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The trade deadline is about two weeks away and it was reported today, by RDS ("French-speaking sister of TSN") that the Columbus Blue Jackets are finally shopping around superstar forward Rick Nash. Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski mentions that Pittsburgh Penguins scouts were watching the Blue Jackets vs. Ducks game on Sunday.

So the question becomes, do the Penguins try to make a move for the talented winger?

The team has over $11 million of cap space to make a trade and with Sidney Crosby's status for the rest of the season still uncertain, a trade for Nash might actually make sense.

The pros for adding Nash are that he's under contract until the 2018 season and by playing with the hottest player in the league, Evgeni Malkin, his numbers may explode to career levels. He is still in his prime and by acquiring him, the Penguins will have a better shot to win the Stanley Cup without No. 87.

Acquiring Nash will come at a cost, though. Many teams are coveting Nash. The Rangers, Red Wings, Capitals and Stars all had scouts looking at Nash during Sunday's game. 

This means that the Penguins' offer has to be the best amongst all of the teams that are interested in Nash's service.

However, the Penguins do have some valuable tools they can use to acquire Nash. The Penguins will probably have to part ways with Jordan Staal. It makes sense to do this because with Nash under contract until 2018, it'll be extremely difficult to keep Crosby, Malkin, Nash and Staal all under contract along with Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang and other highly paid players. 

Bidding farewell to Staal may hurt the Penguins in the short term because they'll be extremely thin at center, but with the way Joe Vitale has been playing, the Penguins should be fine in the long run.

Staal will be a huge asset for the Blue Jackets. They can build the team around him and Ryan Johansen, who is an up-and-coming star for Columbus. Staal's versatility on both sides of the ice makes him a great piece to build around. He's also showed that he can be the leader and star of a team when Malkin and Crosby were both down with injuries last season.

The Penguins can also add in Tyler Kennedy and minor league goaltender Brad Thiessen in the deal. With Nash being yet another winger on the Penguins roster, Kennedy will become an expendable piece for the Penguins. 

Finally, Thiessen really has no future on the Penguins roster because Marc-Andre Fleury is the starter for the team for years to come. He's put up solid numbers for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Last season, he was stellar with a 1.94 GAA and .922 save percentage in the AHL. His numbers haven't been quite as great this season, but the fact that he's done it in the past shows that he is capable of being a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

This trade gives the Penguins a lethal scorer who will be playing aside Crosby for years to come. It will also mean that James Neal can continue to play with Evgeni Malkin and maintain their chemistry together. 

It also gives Columbus a building piece in Jordan Staal, a veteran with experience in Tyler Kennedy, and a young netminder who can has the potential to be a franchise goalie.

Is this wishful thinking, or will the Penguins have to add a guy like James Neal or Chris Kunitz in the deal to make it happen?

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.


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